New-media blogger doesn’t tell the whole story


Maybe this will turn into a battle of bloggers, but that doesn’t need to happen.

Thursday, I read this blog, which a former employee of mine had posted on his Facebook page. Since it tars Darrell Ehrlick, another of my former newspaper employees,  I was interested in what the blogger had to say. I had even gone so far as to write a comment in response. And then I decided to just post it here on my woefully neglected blog:

I’ve never met Kerry Drake and don’t suppose I ever will. To him, I say: Good luck with the website. I hope you will use it to practice better journalism than what has been demonstrated here by Gary Villeneuve, someone else I don’t know and likely will never meet.

I do know Darrell Ehrlick, who is editor of the Casper Star Tribune. Once upon a time, when I was editor of the Winona Daily News, I hired him to be the city editor. It was one of the best hiring decisions I ever made. There are many good things I could say about Darrell. For now, all I will say is:

  • Calling him a hatchet man for Lee Enterprises is borderline libelous.
  • Publishing that kind of anonymous criticism is not the kind of reporting Darrell does. Especially without giving the person being criticized a chance to respond, which is what appears to have been the case with this story.

 I’ve never worked with anyone who cares more about the community in which he lives or tries harder to do newspaper work the way it is supposed to be done.

 I worked 21 years for Lee Enterprises, including 12 as an editor. That ended in February 2012, when my job was eliminated  in yet anther round of budget cuts. I totally understand laying on the couch in the fetal position and wondering “what am I going to do with my life here.”

 More than a year later, I have a job outside of newspapers that I really enjoy. I’ve moved on. Today, I can say the publisher who let me go is just a guy trying to do a hard job the best he can in a rapidly changing industry. It doesn’t help that he is trying to do it for a company whose many mistakes have been well documented. And I wouldn’t want to trade places with him.

 That the same thing could maybe be said about Darrell Ehrlick is about the worst thing I can think of to say about him.

 For Mr. Drake’s sake, I hope he will someday be able to see his situation this way, too

On his blog, Mr. Villeneuve identifies himself as a graduate student in new media who also works in the mental-health field. I wish him well in his endeavors. But in the future, I would encourage him to do a better job of telling both sides when he reports on stories like this one.

There. The loud sound you just heard is me stepping down from my soapbox.

On a personal note: Wow, it’s been six weeks since I posted something here, which means this may be read by 11 people. One of them, I’m pretty sure, will be Darrell Ehrlick. Hang in there, Ehrlick. I didn’t realize just what a big shot you had become until I read you are nothing more than a Lee hatchet man. I always told you I’d wind up working for you someday.

And with that, I am done for now. I’ll try not to wait six weeks before I come back.

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